We’re Spending More At Restaurants, But Not Because We’re Dining Out More

Image courtesy of nathanmac87

In 2015, the average household spent around $3,008 to go to restaurants and have someone else do the cooking and dishwashing for once. That’s a slight uptick over the previous year, but spending more money at restaurants doesn’t necessarily mean we’re eating out more frequently.

Instead, Burger Business reports that the 7.9% spending increase seen in 2015 is likely tied to higher menu prices, not more frequent visits.

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, households dedicated 5.37% of their income to dining out last year compared to spending 5.21% of funds in 2014.

On the flip side, consumers are still spending plenty to eat at home, just not as much as typically seen in the past.

In 2015, income dedicated to at-home food declined to 7.17%, compared with 7.42% in 2014.

Analysts believe that while we all might like a night out or a quick bite from a local fast food or fine dining establishment every once in a while, consumers aren’t exactly heading to those restaurants all of the time.

Instead, NPD Group suggests that food-away-from-home spending increased in 2015 largely based on menu-price inflation, as visits to restaurants stayed relatively flat.

Burger Business reports that both quick service restaurants — think McDonald’s and Burger King — as well as fast casual establishments — like Chipotle — saw no change in customer visits for the second quarter of 2016, while the first quarter only saw a 1% increase in patron visits.

Restaurants saw the largest decline in visits around the lunch hour, while breakfast saw a subtle 1% increase.

“Contributing to the stalled visit growth are consumers’ uncertainties about current and future economic conditions,” Bonnie Riggs, NPD Group restaurant industry analyst, tells Burger Business. “These uncertainties have put a damper on overall consumer spending. Compounding the situation for the restaurant industry is the decline in food at home inflation while at the same time restaurant operators have been increasing menu prices.”

Food-Away Spending Up; Visits Flat [Burger Business]